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Musicians to honor Southern Indiana artist Lotus Dickey at Mathers Museum

Guest post courtesy of IU Communications colleague Brittany Aders:

The Mathers Museum of World Cultures will be hosting a one-day event “Remembering Lotus Dickey” at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 20. Stephen and Nancy Dickey, the son and daughter-in-law of the late Lotus Dickey, will be performing Lotus’s music and holding a discussion about his life and works.

Lotus is well-known around the world, and especially in Bloomington where his legacy is honored yearly during the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival. Although famous, his family said that he just played for the love of music, and they do the same. “He was a very modest person and he played because he loved music, and he would be proud of what we hold on to, which is his humility,” Stephen said.

With Nancy on the banjo and Stephen on the fiddle, the two will play four or five of Lotus’s songs, including “Carry My Burden,” “Indiana My Home Sweet Home” and more.

Playing his Indiana song at IU is fitting because it was written underneath the dormitories when Stephen and Lotus were working 40 feet deep

Stephen and Nancy Dickey Photo credit: Jon Kay, Traditional Arts Indiana

Stephen and Nancy Dickey Photo credit: Jon Kay, Traditional Arts Indiana

below the campus to prepare the pillars for the foundation of the dorms, said Nancy. “My dad came out all muddy with a pencil and paper in his hand and had written the song underground,” Stephen added.

The Dickeys also play in a band called Grease Gravy who play a multitude of musical genres including bluegrass, country, folk and even some rock n’ roll on occasion.

“The music is what brought us together and what keeps us together,” Nancy said. “Around 2003 I met Stephen at the Lotus Dickey home town reunion, and he helped me off the stage. We’ve been together ever since then, just playing music during our spare time here at the house or jammin’, and because of it we’ve not yet had a fight.”

Stephen has been around music all of his life and played multiple instruments, but began playing the fiddle a few years before his father passed away to carry on his legacy. “I’ve always played music because we didn’t have much of anything growing up; but we were rich in music,” he said. “That was our life, to play music for fun everywhere we went.”

Stephen and Nancy have carried on this family tradition, saying they have even brought out their banjo and fiddle at a Burger King and played for others. “We always want to play,” he said. “Music is important because it brings all kinds of people together and is sent from the Lord to people.”

Audience members can expect a laid back performance of traditional and folk music at this show, and the Dickey’s hope that the audience will chime in throughout their songs. “We hope that the show will inspire others to carry on this musical genre and will make people happy,” Stephen said. “We always like it when young people like older music because we believe music will give them a good sense of who they are.”

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